Managing Treatment

The DESIRE to Manage Your ADHD

Five important steps for getting started on the path to managing your ADHD.

Scissors cutting the "t" off "I can't" to turn negative self talk into positive
Scissors cutting I can't

How many times have you heard someone say, “He could do it if he really wanted to?”

If that were the case, then there would be no need for medications, therapy or any other treatment for ADHD. The world would be a wonderful place.

The reality is that it isn’t that simple. “Wanting to” manage your ADHD (or that of your child) is important, but experience and research tell us that even strong determination isn’t always enough.

It takes DESIRE to manage ADHD:

  • Diagnosis
  • Education
  • Structure
  • Individual Responsibility, and
  • Energy.

Diagnosis

The biggest step towards management is the first one. In other disorders, diagnosis is crucial for proper treatment. For the person who has ADHD, professional diagnosis is a significant part OF the treatment.

[Free Resource: How Is ADHD Diagnosed?]

Who can diagnose ADHD? Doctors, psychologists, psychiatrists and other professionals are trained to recognize the symptoms and make the diagnosis. You can read more about the role of each of these professionals in the article, “Who Can Diagnose ADHD?

The feeling of relief that comes from simply having a name to put on the literal disorder in your life is incredible. ADHD is probably the only condition that causes people to grin when they read the symptoms. People who don’t grin just shake their head. The typical response is “It was like I was reading about me.”

You want to run down the street yelling, “I’m not a nut! I’m not a nut!” Such a demonstration, of course, is extremely inappropriate behavior in itself and, in fact, may very well prove to those around you that you are, indeed, totally crazy and they’ll wrap you up in a white jacket and cart you off for some much needed rest and relaxation. But — at least you’ll be carried away with the satisfaction that comes from knowing that there is a name for the disorder which has caused you so much frustration and grief.

Education

After diagnosis, most people do a lot of research about ADHD. In fact, people who have never been able to focus on anything will suddenly find themselves hyperfocused on learning about ADHD. This is good, but it’s important that the material is accurate. There is a lot of misinformation about ADHD. On this site, the Just Diagnosed channel can provide basic information, including links to other credible resources. There are a number of books about ADHD. Driven to Distraction, by Edward Hallowell and John Ratey, is a classic of ADHD literature.

[3 Defining Features of ADHD That Everyone Overlooks]

Structure

Lack of structure is a major problem for people who have ADHD. For most people with ADHD, there seems to be no internal system of organization. This lack of internal structure must be compensated for by creating external systems of organization. You may want to read the articles by Holly Uverity for some ideas. Those who are severely “organizationally challenged” may want to enlist the help of a professional organizer.

Structure means more than just having a way to remember where you put your shoes. A coach, like ADDitude‘s Coach on Call Sandy Maynard, can show you how to organize your time, set priorities, and reach goals.

Research shows that a structured environment is very beneficial for children and adults who have ADHD. So, whether you use a coach or simply try to do it on your own, it is important that you find some way to bring order to your chaotic universe.

Individual Responsibility

Stop blaming everyone else and take a good hard look at yourself. Take responsibility.

Speaking frankly, as a person who has ADHD, I get tired of hearing people whine about how they are “disabled.” The Attention Deficit Disorder is not nearly as debilitating as the ever steady whine of Attitude Deficit Disorder. Yes, you have a disorder. So do I. Deal with it.

Take some responsibility. Do your best to do what needs to be done. When you screw up, admit it, deal with it, and go on. Teaching a child that their ADHD excuses them from any consequences of their actions only handicaps the child.

Treatment for ADHD can help, but medication alone won’t make you pay your bills on time. Being responsible means finding some way of meeting your obligations and commitments.

Energy

Above all, don’t give up. Fight the good fight. (Perhaps that’s not the best phrase to use with a person who has ADHD!) Part of fighting the good fight includes knowing when to take a break. There will be bad days. Learn to recognize them for what they are — just bad days that happen from time to time. It’s not the end of the world. Step back, regroup, and try again.

To summarize all of this:

DESIRE

  • Diagnosis: You can’t deal with a problem unless you know what it is.
  • Education: “Know thy enemy”. Learn all you can about your ADHD
  • Structure: Develop some coping strategies for your life. Keep them simple.
  • Individual Responsibility: Learn how your ADHD affects you and stop blaming others.
  • Energy: Don’t give up.

Develop a DESIRE to manage your ADHD.

[Your After-Diagnosis Survival Guide]

7 Comments & Reviews

  1. I would also add that making adjustments to the structure each stage of life may be required . I moved recently after 9 years in one location so you can just imagine where my keys and glasses and wallet are.. i hope you can because i am spending countless minutes finding them and everything else and being late as a consequence. Everything takes twice as long and unless i get serious about organizing my life again I too will become a whiner not a winner.
    This time i have the time and will do it this coming week. I always worked well with imminent deadlines and promises by doing them immediately before i forgot and doing the most difficult first to get that accomplished feeling knowing that the rest was easy by comparison.

    1. You know that after 70 years of having no excuses for my behavior I was beginning to like sitting back and saying ” oh thats just another D day insread of thats another Seniors moment. 70 years of being totally responsible for those screwups was enough i thought. But now i have come full circle and found that my friends are sick of hearing about it. Deal with it they say. So you are right knowing what it is only helps this much {. } the rest is up to me.

  2. I have spent my entire life holding myself responsible for all of my disorganization, missed appointments, failed connections, etc. Maybe some are “whiners”, but I have the sense, (and I know from my own experience), that coming to terms, and dealing with ADHD, allows many of us to begin releasing the self blame and shame we have lived with. Yes, I agree that being a responsible adult requires that we look at situations honestly and recognize when we have been at fault, however, I believe that a lot of self-compassion allows us to do so.

  3. I find it disappointing that the authors – the ADDITUDE editors – did not acknowledge the diversity of experiences amongst people with ADHD in the following paragraph under Individual Responsibility:

    “Stop blaming everyone else and take a good hard look at yourself. Take responsibility. Speaking frankly, as a person who has ADHD, I get tired of hearing people whine about how they are “disabled”. The Attention Deficit Disorder is not nearly as debilitating as the ever steady whine of Attitude Deficit Disorder. Yes, you have a disorder. So do I. Deal with it.”

    This isn’t my experience. I lived the first 27 years of life undiagnosed. I always put in in 110% effort but still got called “lazy”, “disorganized”, “smart but somehow really dumb”, “not a great fit here”, “has potential but never reaches it”, “always looks sad and tired”. I cried a lot because I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me and none of my friends, family members or psychologists could give me answers either. I was often scolded for not taking responsibility and making silly mistakes. Everytime I made a mistake I would be so hard on myself and essentially say to myself “take a good hard look at yourself! take responsibility!” This wore me down over the years and eventually I wanted to disappear.

    Since diagnosis things have got a lot better for me. Instead of scolding myself for mistakes, my internal monologue says “that’s your disability”. It’s a game changer because I don’t internalise the shame of being scolded by myself and others. My mental health is a lot better and I perform at lot better at work, home and in social situations because of this.

    Perhaps you hear the “ever steady whine of Attitude Deficit Disorder” because you work for an organization providing a resource for people with ADHD. I never heard it until I suspected I had an attention disorder and that was because I was actively seeking out resources and like-minded people.

    Your experience of ADHD may involve needing to take responsibility but that is not all of us – some of us have been taking responsibility for years already. I finally have a metalanguage for what I am experiencing. I can finally advocate for my needs because I now know what they are and how to fulfil them. I am careful to watch for people’s body language when I explain my ADHD experience to them to gage how interested they actually are or if I should switch topics. So please do not tell me to stop “whining” about my disability because others have been whining about my symptoms to me for my whole life and up until now I have been defenceless against that and powerless to change it.

    To be completely honest, I’m very surprised at this lack of consideration for the diversity of our experiences. ADDITUDE was amongst the first resources I enjoyed reading when I was first diagnosed. I have returned to ADDITUDE time and time again for information on specific aspects of the ADHD experience. It’s one of the first resources I recommend to parents of newly-diagnosed students.

    So please consider this when providing future advice about managing ADHD

  4. While there is truth in the following paragraph at the bottom of this comment, the way it’s delivered and the language it uses sounds incredibly ableist. It’s sad coming from a site that purports to help.

    This line is especially bothersome: “The Attention Deficit Disorder is not nearly as debilitating as the ever steady whine of Attitude Deficit Disorder.”

    WOW, honestly this sentence disgusts me and MANY others with this disorder. They are talking about it online and pretty much everyone agrees.

    I feel like that sentence is especially problematic for those diagnosed later in life (statistically higher to be WOMEN), who haven’t had the assistance of medication or guidance on handling the issues, and have been told by others and their own inner voices that they just don’t try hard enough, are lazy, are irresponsible, are losers, are stupid, or just don’t care. Try having a lifetime of that experience and then get back to me about how we just need to “take responsibility”.

    Not until getting on meds at 51 have I been able to finally implement many of the tips and lessons I tried to learn for so very long, and “take responsibility.”

    HOW THE HECK IS SOMEONE SUPPOSED TO TAKE RESPONSIBILITY WHEN THEY’VE NOT KNOWN UNTIL LATER IN LIFE???!!! Also, the struggle to get approved for medication, later in life, is REAL!!! Without meds it was infinitely harder for me to try to do the things that help with the issues.

    Check yourselves!!!

    That paragraph sounds like it was written either by – someone who has a “mild case” of ADHD, is a “professional” who doesn’t even have it, someone who does but has had the luxury of early diagnosis, treatment, and tools, or someone who is bitter. Please do better, because this is gross.

    “Individual Responsibility
    Stop blaming everyone else and take a good hard look at yourself. Take responsibility.

    Speaking frankly, as a person who has ADHD, I get tired of hearing people whine about how they are “disabled.” The Attention Deficit Disorder is not nearly as debilitating as the ever steady whine of Attitude Deficit Disorder. Yes, you have a disorder. So do I. Deal with it.

    Take some responsibility. Do your best to do what needs to be done. When you screw up, admit it, deal with it, and go on. Teaching a child that their ADHD excuses them from any consequences of their actions only handicaps the child.

    Treatment for ADHD can help, but medication alone won’t make you pay your bills on time. Being responsible means finding some way of meeting your obligations and commitments.”

  5. “Stop blaming everyone else” ??? My entire life I’ve felt shame and blamed myself. Why would it be assumed that people newly diagnosed with ADHD are blaming others? Most everyone with ADHD that I’ve talked to or read about are struggling with self blame, and are working hard to understand themselves with this newfound information. They’re not whining and blaming others.
    And to speak frankly, I quickly grew tired of the authors unfeeling squawk implying they think people with ADHD should shut up and deal with it because it’s not that bad. Why is the author writing about ADHD if they don’t fully understand how ADHD can impact one’s life? Are they not aware of the number of comorbidities? And yes, having a negative attitude does not help but neither does the author’s aggressive lack of empathy.

    It’s bad enough that this person writes for your ADHD magazine, please tell me they don’t work with people with ADHD or anyone else who needs assistance.

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